Medical and surgical interventions for hearing loss associated with congenital cytomegalovirus: a systematic review

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011 May;144(5):662-75. doi: 10.1177/0194599811399241.


Background: Hearing loss associated with congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection occurs in 0.2 to 0.6 per 1000 neonates.

Objective: The primary goal of this systemic review was to test the following null hypotheses: (1) antiviral therapy has no impact on congenital CMV-related sensorineural hearing loss and (2) surgical therapy has no impact on congenital CMV-related sensorineural hearing loss.

Data sources: Computerized searches of MEDLINE and EMBASE databases through September 2010 were performed, supplemented with manual searches and inquiries to topic experts.

Review methods: Studies were included based on review of 387 studies according to criteria developed a priori. Data extraction was performed by independent reviewers and focused on relevant audiologic measurements, study designs, and potential confounders.

Results: Criterion-meeting studies (n = 19) included a total of 446 participants. The largest randomized controlled trial (RCT) suggested a significant protective effect of intravenous ganciclovir against deterioration of hearing in neonates with central nervous system manifestations of CMV infection. It also, however, suggested a 3-fold increase in neutropenia. The second RCT suggested that there may be no significant benefit of intravenous ganciclovir for normal-hearing infants with asymptomatic congenital CMV. Additional prospective and retrospective data evaluated the impact of oral therapy and cochlear implantation in affected patients.

Conclusion: Although results are mixed, the highest level of evidence suggests that antiviral therapy confers a protective benefit on neonates with hearing loss and symptomatic CMV. Cochlear implantation can result in advancement of speech and language skills, but there are mixed results compared with non–CMV-infected patients.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / complications*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / congenital*
  • Hearing Loss / surgery
  • Hearing Loss / therapy*
  • Hearing Loss / virology*
  • Humans